Mundaring Shire considers outsourcing Lake Leschenaultia amenities to offset lower rate rise

Mundaring Shire considers outsourcing Lake Leschenaultia amenities to offset lower rate rise

MUNDARING Shire went into damage control this week after an announcement about councillors looking to reduce services to offset a lower rate increase.

The proposal would see the forecast increase fall from five to three per cent, equating to an average rise of $45 per household as opposed to $75 per household.

Following the announcement, word spread fast on social media about an option to close the camping ground, café and canoe hire at Lake Leschenaultia.

Shire President David Lavell said services at the Lake would not close.

“Mundaring council is considering whether existing commercial activities, such as canoe hire, camping and the kiosk could be outsourced,” he said.

The tourist attraction currently employs one full-time worker and two part-timers, with 19 casuals providing additional support on a seasonal basis.

Shire chief executive Jonathan Throssell said the 23 camping sites at the lake were mostly fully booked, sometimes up to a year in advance.

He said in a radio interview that the lake runs at an annual deficit of about $400,000, with a net deficit of $80,000 just for the camping, catering and canoe hire.

Also aired was the Shire’s need to identify $1 million reduction in expenditure to deliver the three per cent rate.

Councillors were meeting again on Wednesday to consider their options and provide direction on the Shire’s long-term financial plan.

Mr Lavell said they would consider the need to stop or reduce certain services.

Other services earmarked for scrutiny are Mt Helena Aquatic Centre, Mt Helena Recreation Centre and tennis courts at Chidlow, Mahogany Creek and Wooroloo.

Events such as Trek the Trail are on the line along with the tree canopy program and a reduction in expenditure for new drainage works and footpaths.

Cr Lavell said all services including those that were underutilised were under review.

He said it was too soon in the process to determine the number of council staff potentially affected by any decision to axe or reduce services.

Shire employees are preparing a report on ways to deliver the cuts.

“The chief executive has been asked to provide council with advice including key factors on the proposed changes, such as costs, risks and the impact on the community,” he said.

Cr Lavell said the council was keen to hear from the community and would start a representative survey and public submissions next week.

“They can also speak with their local councillor,” he said.

Mt Helena resident John Bell recently called on councillors to cap rate rises at the Consumer Price Index, a proposal thrown out last month.

The Mundaring Ratepayers moderator said concern over rate hikes had reached a point where some people were baying for blood.

“We’ll wait and see what is put on the table first and I hope councillors will take a closer look at Shire administration costs,” he said.

“I think councillors should be looking at reducing customer services as a last resort.”

He said as a small council, with no industrial development, serving a population of about 41,000, it was inevitable there would be some cuts to services.

“The elephant in the room is how long can we exist as an independent Shire if we want the same level of services?” he said.

Mr Bell suggested the Shire look at the option of some shared administration with other councils.